Property owner reverses rent decision for Willow Beach evacuees frustrated by flood ordeal

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Property owner reverses rent decision for Willow Beach evacuees frustrated by flood ordeal – Jun 7, 2018

Flood-stricken Willow Beach mobile home park residents near Osoyoos, B.C., are dealing with an ordeal that’s left them unable to return to their homes and thinking they were forced to pay full pad rent. But the property owner now says he will waive or rebate a portion of May’s rent to the tenants, following inquiries by Global News.

On June 1, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre rescinded an evacuation order for 17 properties at Willow Beach on the north end of Osoyoos Lake. It was issued on May 10 due to high water.

The RDOS said the “potential danger to life, health and property damage” has declined, but residents are unable to return home due to a lack of power, sewer and water.

“It’s terribly frustrating,” said resident Susan Shendaruk, who is on disability and has been living in a hotel for the past month.

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“There is no communication between all of us and the people who are supposed to be looking after us.”

READ MORE: Red Cross to visit South Okanagan this week

Cheryl Smith owns a mobile home on the property and rents it out to a tenant who has been unable to return.

“We’ve spent the last five days trying to find out what is happening, what is the hold up, when is stuff getting turned back on and we’re getting no answers from anybody,” she said.

The property owner has reversed his decision regarding pad rental for some Willow Beach residents. Shelby Thom / Global News

Despite the month-long evacuation order and almost one week since it’s been rescinded, the park has no services and residents were told they would be forced to pay full pad rent.

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“I pay you pad rent to have my house sit on your land and for you to provide me with sewer and water and we can’t go to our houses, so why are you still charging us?” Smith said.

“We can’t live here, what are we paying for?” added Shendaruk.

READ MORE: South Okanagan residents express frustration at flood information meeting, another home evacuated

The mobile home park is owned by Infinity Properties, which is based in Langley, B.C.

Development manager Josh Turner said Infinity Properties is trying to get people back into their homes.

“Fortis is requesting that each individual owner get an inspection on their unit. Fortis turned on power to the common facilities but won’t turn the power back on to any individual mobile homes until those specific units are inspected by an electrical contractor and then a permit filed,” Turner said.

When initially asked why the property owner will not give residents a break on pad rent, Turner said the flooding was outside their control.

“We try to sympathize. We look at all of these properties through a slightly different lens when we’re approaching them, so we do try to be as compassionate as we can.”

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However, Turner changed his stance following requests from Global News.

“My initial reaction and answer to the question [as to rent rebates] was no as this situation was and is completely outside of our control…But, after some further thought, I have reconsidered.”

Turner didn’t know when services will be back up and running so residents can return home. He said he would be contacting the local property manager with the update.

A spokesperson for FortisBC said on Thursday work crews are on site, and that units in the park that are safe to be energized will be re-energized Thursday.

For information from FortisBC on steps that need to be taken prior to and when returning from a flood evacuation, click here 

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